"Drumming Preparation": Poetics and Politics of Rhythm in the Soviet Avant-Garde
Politics of rhythm in the early Soviet Union establishes an all-embracing order of kinetic resonance (cf. Mandelshtam, “State and rhythm”). Rhythm doesn’t merely “infect” people with the “enthusiasm” of revolutionary movement (cf. Eisenstein, “The Rhythmic Drum”). It’s a power not only due to its mobilizing effect, but also due to its organizing impact. Rhythm imposes meter, regularity, routine on the movement of people – as manifested in the “rhythmic education” programs and in the “scientific organization” of labor (by means of rhythmical adjustment, scheduled movement of actors, workers, soldiers, children). It’s a discipline tool – and at the same time a precondition for the empowerment of the – individual and collective – rhythmic subject.
This regards also to the Avantgarde’s rhythm-discourse which I consider as a part of a broader context of a rhythm of the revolution. This discourse is closely linked with physiological and psychological explanations of rhythm. Rhythm is both the elementary manifestation of organic and kinetic energies and the regulation of those energies. In Sergei Eisenstein’s evolutionary-anthropological view on art and cinema the rhythmic intensity of film goes back to “protoplasmatic” energy. Kinetic and kinesthetic dynamics in theatre and dance are conceived of as a dialectics of rhythmical drive and adjustment, of “impulse” and “control”. The same applies to concepts of poetic language and it’s rhythmic foundations (Russian formalism; empiric psychological research in rhythm perception at the “Institute of the Living Word” and the “GAKhN”/State Acadsemy of Art Sciences); Andrei Bely; and others), with a particular focus on sensomotorical and kinaesthetic effects of verse rhythm.
Apart from the rhythmic effect on the bodies of the revolution, a similar double determination is also discussed in connection with the language of the revolution (cf. the discussion about Lenin’s rhetoric in the 1924 “LEF” (Levyj front of the arts) edition, cf. the research on “suggestive speech” at the GAKhN).